A million dead fish discovered floating in one of Australia’s largest rivers as officials race to investigate
- Up to one million native fish dead in Darling River
- Devastated locals have demanded answers
- Drought in 2019 saw fish die in the same area
- Government officials are currently investigating
Millions of native fish have washed up dead near Menindee in outback NSW, in a series of mass kills caused by floods and hot weather.
The state Department of Primary Industries said fish including bony herring, Murray cod and perch had died on the lower Darling-Baaka River, in the far west, along with carp.
‘This event is ongoing as a heatwave across western NSW continues to put further stress on a system that has experienced extreme conditions from wide-scale flooding,’ the department said on Friday.
Up to one million fish have died in a fresh water catchment in NSW’s far west as locals demand answers and government officials investigate (pictured, the fish in the Darling River)
The deaths were likely caused by low oxygen levels as floods recede, a situation made worse by fish needing more oxygen because of the warmer weather.
Bony herring were a boom-and-bust species, the department said, which thrive in floods but are more susceptible to stresses when water flows return to normal.
‘NSW DPI understands that fish death events are distressing to the local community, particularly on the lower Darling-Baaka.’
Local nature photographer Geoff Looney found huge clusters of dead fish near the main weir at Menindee on Thursday evening.
‘The stink was terrible. I nearly had to put a mask on,’ Mr Looney told AAP.
‘I was worried about my own health. That water right in the top comes down to our pumping station for the town.
Local Geoff Looney posted a series of troubling photos from the basin and questioned if there would be a state inquiry into what was killing the native fish
‘People north of Menindee say there’s cod and perch floating down the river everywhere.’
Mass kills have been reported on the Darling-Baaka River in recent weeks.
Tens of thousands of fish were found at the same spot in late February, while there have been several reports of dead fish downstream towards Pooncarie, near the borders of South Australia and Victoria, since February 20.
Enormous fish kills occurred on the river at Menindee during severe drought conditions in late 2018 and early 2019, with locals estimating millions of deaths.
The department’s investigation involving scientists and Murray-Darling Basin experts found those events were also caused by a lack of dissolved oxygen, amid very low or non-existent water flows, high temperatures and blue-green algal blooms.
Mr Looney said there should be an inquiry into water management and fish deaths.
‘It’s getting ridiculous,’ he said.
Several state and federal departments are responding to the latest mass kill.
‘It worries me a lot as this water is used for our town supply of water and a lot of people drink it,’ local Geoff Looney said of the latest fish kill in Menindee, far west NSW
In 2019, locals took pictures of the hundreds of thousands of fish (pictured) found dead along a 40-kilometre stretch of the Darling River after a prolonged drought period
The state government have blamed the ‘environmental catastrophe’ of the dying fish (pictured) on the weather